Assembly Approves Compassionate Care Act

Earlier this week, the State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care Act, a measure that would allow the use of marijuana to treat serious, life-threatening illnesses under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner, creating one of the nation’s most closlely monitored programs drastically unlike policy in a place like California.

“To let New Yorkers with serious illnesses suffer when there is a known, effective alternative to help them simply doesn’t make any sense,” Speaker Silver said. “If done in the carefully controlled manner the Compassionate Care Act establishes, I firmly believe that allowing the closely monitored use of medical marijuana is a viable, dignified option that will benefit patients suffering from debilitating illnesses.”

“More and more states are allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat patients with severe, debilitating illnesses and it’s long past time for New York to join them,” Gottfried said. “I have heard from countless patients and families who would benefit from the Compassionate Care Act and there is more momentum and support for this measure than ever. We have the opportunity to help so many New Yorkers with this common sense, humane legislation. Now is the time to legalize medical marijuana.”

“The legalization of medical marijuana is long overdue,” Lentol said. “The Compassionate Care Act would legalize and carefully regulate it, much like we regulate other controlled substances, to ensure that only those who could truly benefit from the use of medical marijuana have access to it without being criminalized. The measure wouldn’t open the flood gates to the complete deregulation of a dangerous drug. It would simply alleviate the pain and suffering of countless New Yorkers, and that in and of itself is worth acting on.”

The Act would allow medical use of marijuana under a doctor’s supervision for patients with cancer or who are suffering from other severely debilitating or life-threatening conditions. The bill would set up one of the strictest medical marijuana programs in the nation. The tightly regulated measure includes provisions that would:

  • allow a licensed practitioner to certify that a patient has a serious condition (under statutory criteria) for which they are likely to receive palliative or therapeutic benefit from treatment with the medical use of marijuana;
  • permit a certified patient or designated caregiver who is registered with the state Department of Health (DOH) to possess up to two and one half ounces of marijuana;
  • authorize the DOH to license and regulate “registered organizations” to dispense medical marijuana for certified patients; and
  • require DOH to issue registry identification cards to certified patients and designated caregivers. These cards would expire after 90 days to conform with the maximum length of an initial prescription for all other controlled substances.

The measure would require registration of organizations that would sell, deliver or distribute medical marijuana to certified patients or designated caregivers. It also establishes an excise tax of 10 percent on the retail price of medical marijuana dispensed. 7.5 percent of the resulting revenue would go to the county where the marijuana was produced and 7.5 percent would go to the county where it was dispensed. Five percent of the revenue would go to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to fund drug abuse prevention and treatment services.

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